Rupa Lalchandani

Stanford Neurosciences Institute Interdisciplinary Scholar
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Department of Neurosurgery

The work of Dr. Lalchandani investigates the relationship between dopamine and GABA synthesis, vesicular packaging, and co-release in basal ganglia neurons in mice. The work involves a novel biosynthetic pathway for GABA in these cells and involves genetic dissection, electrophysiology, and optogenetics.

Rupa grew up in Sacramento, CA and attended UCLA for her undergraduate studies. After completing her degree in Psychobiology, she moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a PhD in Physiology at Georgetown University.

Under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Stefano Vicini, Rupa examined the effect of dopamine receptor activation on striatal spiny neuron collaterals. By using paired whole-cell recordings, GABAA receptor pharmacology, neuron reconstruction, variance-mean analyses and immunocytochemistry in in vitro dissociated mouse cultures, they found evidence suggesting dopamine D2 receptor activation increased frequency and efficacy of spiny neuron collateral synapses. 

To continue her development in the basal ganglia field, Rupa joined Dr. Jun Ding's laboratory at Stanford last May. Rupa brings in her own expertise in cell culture and is learning new technologies, such as optogenetics and virus construction, to investigate the synaptic mechanisms underlying fine movement control and addiction. She is now interested in how GABA co-released by dopaminergic neurons affects striatal inhibition – a novel synaptic mechanism utilized by dopamine neurons. By combining the strengths and interdisciplinary approaches of Dr. Ding’s and Dr. Lu Chen’s labs, they hope to elucidate the role of inhibition throughout the nervous system, potentially providing better tools and earlier targets for a variety of diseases.

In her spare time, Rupa enjoys running outdoors, creative writing and vegetarian cooking.